Today was Jen's last basketball game. She was sad to see her stint playing basketball come to an end and I reminded her of the good times she had playing. She met new friends, there were great moments of laughter and hugs, and she learned new things about the game. She also grew just a little bit more in her athletic abilities. I am glad I had her take the basketball clinic last year, because it prepared her for the Real Thing this year.
Today's game was really something. Somehow, it just lasted longer than it really did. A couple of girls got hurt and I was touched to see Jen run out to check with her teammate after she was injured in the game.
The opponents were very aggressive. So much so that there was constant struggling for control of the ball. The coaches had to intervene when things got out of hand. I just had to chuckle with amusement at watching those girls play so aggressively. Pig tails and make-up just aren't the makings of these girls on THIS basketball court! They shed their girly images and took on the roles of tough, determined players giving their all to score one for the team! They weren't girls, they were GRRRLS!
Still, I was concerned about just how tough they played. I believe that contributed to why some girls got injured. It was heartbreaking to watch girls crying after they got hurt. I guess there is crying in basketball, after all. At one point, Jennifer fell and I started to feel distress when she didn't get up. The assistant coach picked her up and carried her to the bench. She hurt her knee (a nasty bruise showed up on there later) but was able to get back into the game later. I was even more distressed when one girl on the opposing team tore the ball away from Jennifer so hard, her arms went flying and she fell to the floor. I was concerned she was hurt after that, moreso after she kept clutching at her arm as she continued to play. I wanted the coach to pull her out in case her arms were hurt but she seemed to play all right so I let it go. When she came to the bench, I asked her about her arms and she said they did hurt a little but she was more angry at the girl for taking the ball away from her like that.
Aside from the toughness and aggressiveness, I was taken aback at the camaraderie that still existed among opposing teams. When a girl on the opposing team fell, a girl on Jen's team helped her up. And even though they went crazy trying to block each other from trying to catch the ball, they still smiled at each other and there was that look on their face which somehow reinforced the message that it was only a game and the main objective was to have fun.
There were cheers as baskets were made, high-fives and hugs. There were teammates offering pointers and coaches always at a player's side anytime something went wrong. And a parent was at a player's side, too. One girl started to have an episode and refused to leave the bench. Her mother had to come over and talk to her. When one girl on the opposing team complained of stomach pain, her coach benched her and sent in a replacement. I was relieved none of them were told to tough out anything.
What I couldn't get over was just how excited the girls were to play the game. They were ready and willing to play basketball! All of that running back and forth on the court and they never tuckered out. They were game for the game!
I also had to reflect on what a great job the coach did in coaching these girls for this season. The coach only had experience coaching boys, not girls, and I think he did an amazing job coaching a girls' basketball team. Yay, Coach McCarthy!
It was sad to see all of this come to an end. The practices and the games. I had a great time associating with the parents and Jen enjoyed hanging out with her new friends. There were girls from different schools, different cities, so it's not like she'll get to see that many of them too often after today. We're both sad about this because she really likes her teammates (and that's a good thing, because I've stressed to her many times the importance of getting along with your teammates), but we are both grateful that we got to meet them and know them, even in this short time.
After the game, we parents took pics of the team. I look forward to printing out all the pics I took and putting them into an album. The season was short but it was definitely memorable. We're all the more excited for what new memories and friendships next season will bring!